Corruption remains a serious concern despite positive legislative changes in Montenegro. The situation is highly problematic in an environment where police officers are accused of corruption or there is a lack of coordination between police and prosecutors. This is one of the reasons why the European Parliament criticized the government’s lacklustre approach to tackling corruption and urging it to make the Special Prosecutor’s Office fully operational as soon as possible. This is the reasons why the POINTPULSE Network is talking today with the Institute Alternative researcher Dina Bajramspahić about police reform in Montenegro.
- What are the consequences of police corruption in Montenegro?
Even though the claim that corruption is omnipresent in Montenegro is widely accepted, the greatest consequences of corruption for the society can be seen in the police and the judiciary.
On the one hand, it goes contrary to the citizen’s belief that they live in a society where their basic rights are respected.
On the other hand, the existence of corruption in the police is contributing to the increase of corruption in other areas within the context of the lack of ruthless repressive fight against it.
- What are the main three problems in police reform process in your country?
‘’A corruptive behaviour’’ present in Montenegrin police is not only reflected in bribery and misuse of official power but also in the passivity of action, extortion of statements and political involvement.
Violent disruption of protests from a few months ago, for which there are only two officers that are being charged against, has shown that excessive use of force is still tolerated in the police.
The question of police torture is very complex, and although it might be it is not only a political issue. It also testifies that a certain number of officers of Montenegrin police have not adopted the principle of non-violence and human act.
Civil society in Montenegro must strive towards having police officers that will be empowered to refuse a non-ethical order or to stop a colleague that is acting illegally, which was not the case here.
- Is there an example of good practices in tackling police corruption?
A positive thing in Montenegro is that there are a vast number of institutions and bodies that deal with police work, including internal control, ethical board, disciplinary commission, two parliamentary committees, council for civil control, ombudsman, anti-corruption agency, etc. However, these bodies have still not achieved the level of efficiency necessary for the conduct of its competencies.
- What are the main three recommendations to foster police reform process in your country?
It is necessary to improve the coordination and exchange of information among exterior and particularly interior mechanisms for determining responsibility in order to achieve greater efficiency, among other things, by organizing regular meetings, focusing on identifying systemic problems in police officers’ work and proposing systemic measures for tackling those issues.
It is also crucial to keep strengthening the internal control of the police, and by amending Law on Internal Affairs, expanding the authority of the internal control on supervision over Ministry of Interior particularly in high-risk areas for corruption, such as public finance and public procurement.
Finally, it is particularly important to reform the human resource management in police, with emphasis on just evaluation and promotion based on work results.